The City of Laurel Historic District Commission

(HDC) was established in 1975 to promote the preservation of Laurel's historic sites and buildings in order to safeguard the heritage of the City's built environment. The Commission's authority is derived from the Land Use Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and Article I, Division 13 of the City of Laurel Unified Land Development Code. To that end, the Commission is empowered to hold public hearings for the purpose of reviewing architectural and design elements for buildings in the Historic District and granting certificates of approval in accordance with the City of Laurel Historic District Commission Design Guidelines (Art. I, Div. 14, City of Laurel Land Development Code). 

The Historic District

The City of Laurel Historic District consists of seven individual but contiguous districts as established in Sec. 11-2 of the City of Laurel Municipal Code. Located in the northernmost part of the City, all of these districts fall under the design review authority of the Historic District Commission. Click here for a link to the Maryland Association of Historic Distric. There you can find helpful resources such as contractor information, design guidelines and much more! https://mahdc.org/


Historic District Survey

What is “contributing” or “non-contributing”?

Historic districts usually include a mix of “contributing” and “non-contributing” resources:

  • Contributing resources are houses, churches, commercial structures or other buildings that add to the significance of the district.
  • Non-contributing resources do not add to the significance of the district.
  • Find out which one your house is on the following link: contributing_and_non_contributing_hdc_addresses.pdf

Here is a link to the Maryland's National Register Properties


Maryland Residential Property Disclosure Statement

What does having a property in the historic district mean for me as a property owner?

If you plan to make any exterior changes to your property, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Approval from the preservation commission. And, the proposed changes will need to comply with certain guidelines. Your rehabilitation project could be eligible for certain tax credits at a state level.

What is the role of the Historic District Commission members and staff?

The commission reviews plans for all exterior alterations to buildings in the historic district, including changes or additions to the rear of the property. If the plans are approved, then the applicant may apply for a building permit. The commission also sponsors historic site surveys and publications.

The staff reviews applications and advises the commission on matters related to zoning code and design guidelines. The staff also assists property owners in preparing their applications and administers the Certified Local Government program for the commission.


Any change to a structure located in the Historic District which is visible from a public right-of-way falls under the purview of the Historic District Commission's design review. This can range from something as simple as repainting a house, installing a fence, or replacing windows to complex projects such as residential additions, posting a sign on Main Street, or building demolitions.  Proposed projects which the Commission deems as meeting the criteria of the Design Guidelines are issued a Certificate of Approval, indicating that work may proceed contingent on obtaining any necessary permits.  Failure to obtain a Historic District Commission

Certificate of Approval can lead to a referral to Code Enforcement Officers for issuance of a municipal infraction.

While certain projects may be approved by staff (i.e. "in-Kind" replacements), most must be presented before the Commission during a public hearing.  A HDC Certificate of Approval Application must be submitted to the Department of Economic and Community Development for all proposed projects.  In addition to the Application, supporting documents and/or items must be submitted which visually conveys: (1) the building or site as it presently exists and (2) as it will appear after the proposed changes. To get on the agenda for a Commission meeting for approval, you must meet the deadline (which is typically a month before). You can check with staff or the deadline dates listed in the link below. Even staff approvals will take 7-10 business days to process.

Additionally, if the work for an approved Historic District Commission Certificate has not commenced within twelve (12) months of the date of approval, the Certificate is void, unless a renewal is requested from the Historic District Commission.


Must meet all setback and lot coverage requirements based on the property's zoning. If the addition increases the gross floor area of the residence by 50% or more, a Special Exception from the Board of Appeals is required, click below for a chart of that process. Please contact staff for more information.


Historic District House

HDC Guidelines

Although the Commission is the final determinant in the issuance of a HDC Certificate of Approval, their decision is rendered in the context of the Historic District Commission Design Guidelines, as listed in Art. I, Div. 14 of the Unified Land Development Code.  These guidelines are intended to allow for variety of choice for individual projects yet still maintain the integrity of the Historic District as a whole.

Where can I find appropriate hardware and fixtures for my historic house?

Two good sources for hardware fixtures, as well as a host of other products related to historic houses, are Old-House Journal and Traditional Building magazines. Both of these periodicals should be available at your local book store and/or library, and both maintain websites.

Tree Removal

First, check that the tree is seen from a public right-of-way, if it is not, you do not need HDC approval however, if it is you will need approval.  Next, check the Champion Tree list to see if your tree is listed (those trees are more protected).  If it is not and you have an arborist report stating the tree is dying, dead or diseased, fill out an application and provide to staff to approve the request (no night meeting required).  If you cannot provide an arborist report you will need to fill out an application and attend a night meeting for approval through the Historic District Commission. If the tree is listed on the Champion Tree list you will need HDC approval through a night meeting, no exceptions!   The Commission will typically sugguest a new tree is planted on the property, but not necessarily in the same spot where the tree is removed.


Link to the Prince George's County Rain Check Rebate Program


Signage/Awning Fonts

Need help choosing a font for your sign or awning in the Historic District? This link has some great ideas! https://www.fontspring.com/tag/historical

Historic District Commission Tax Credit

The City of Laurel offers a tax credit for approved and qualifying preservation and restoration projects located in the Historic District.  The amount of the tax credit is ten percent (10%) of the total expense of the approved work, which must conform with the criteria as established by the HDC Certificate of Approval.  A HDC Tax Credit Application must be obtained in order to receive a tax credit.  For more information contact the Economic and Community Development Department.

Historic District Church


***There is also a Tax Credit you can apply for through the State of Maryland, separate from the City of Laurel.  For more information click below***


The Commission normally meets monthly at the Laurel Municipal Center located at 8103 Sandy Spring Road. 

The Public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Please check the deadline dates link below or with our staff, if you have a certificate application you would like to submit for the next Historic District Commission meeting.

Related Files